One of the most important ideas in the study of linguistics is the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. In layman’s terms, the hypothesis posits that language determines thought and can influence our decisions. So, if the words we use have a massive impact on how we see the world, then we should be choosey about what we call things for the benefit of ourselves and those around us.
The Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik believes that the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis means we should should stop calling women “girls.” “When we use words to describe adult women that are typically used to describe children, it changes the way we view women—even unconsciously—so that we don’t equate them with adult men,” Bialik says in a Facebook video. “Maybe if we start using language that elevates women and doesn’t equate them with sweet, small, cuddly, tender things, we’ll start treating them as more than that as well,” she said.
For those who are unsure which term to use when referring to a specific female, Bialik has some advice to find the proper term. “If you’re feeling confused about whether or not to call someone a girl, let me help you out … Indications that she may, in fact, be a woman are:
— A high school diploma
— A job
— A car she pays insurance on
— A mortgage
— A home she calls her own
— A 401(k)